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Child Safety Starts at Home

It's easy to overlook safety hazards at home-- until an accident happens. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal watchdog agency for consumer safety, says that keeping kids safe from injuries is a full-time job for grownups and children. As a parent, your job is to know where the dangers are and to eliminate them. But kids need to be aware of hazards and how to avoid them, too. The CPSC has a fun and informative safety program for kids, led by a cool character called Kidd Safety, to teach them about everything from bike helmets to electrical hazards.

Just one source of injury and death, home playground equipment, is the subject of a new report showing that more deaths to children occurred on backyard playgrounds than on public playgrounds. Of the nearly 150 deaths to children under the age of 15 involving playground equipment from 1990 to August 2000, the CPSC says at least 90 of these occurred in a home setting. Almost three-fourths of the deaths in home locations resulted from hangings from ropes, cords, homemade rope swings, and other similar items.

Playground equipment is also a leading cause of injuries to children, particularly pre-school aged children. In 1999 alone, there were more than 200,000 playground-equipment injuries, with almost 47,000 injuries on home playgrounds to children under age 15. The proportion of injured children younger than age 5 was higher on home playgrounds than on playgrounds in general.

To help prevent injuries from falls and other hazards on home playgrounds, parents are encouraged to install and maintain protective surfacing, eliminate unsafe ropes and check for potentially hazardous hooks and edges on swings and slides on home playgrounds. CPSC's study found that only 9 percent of home playgrounds had protective, shock-absorbing surfacing. Dirt and grass, which are the most prevalent surfaces under home playground equipment, do not adequately protect children from serious head injuries.

CPSC has tons of information for kids and grownups at, including Kidd Safety, a cool character who invites kids to have a blast playing fun safety games including the Safety Challenge, a house full of items that can be dangerous and items that make the house safer. Once you find each item you need to remember where you found it. Make sure you check upstairs and down! (Grownups would learn something by playing, too.)

For more information on playground safety, contact CPSC at (800) 638- 2772 or You can view the "Handbook for Playground Safety" (pdf) and the "Public Playground Safety Checklist" or get a free copy by writing to CPSC, Washington, DC 20207. For more information on KaBOOM! and its resources available to develop safe community and backyard playgrounds, call 866-KaBOOM-0 or visit

Sources used to create this article include the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).